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Best food in San Francisco & The East Bay – Markets (produce, cheese, meat, fish, bakeries, coffee etc)

rworange Jul 19, 2006 06:43 PM

This isn’t meant to be comprehensive or list every shop in the area ... only the best.

If there isn’t a website, I listed a Chowhound report with the address. A newspaper article is the link if there were no Chowhound reports. Searching Chowhound will result in good tips for many of these shops.

I’ll update periodically with the suggestions in this topic noting additions with an edit comment at the end of this post.

I keep this list for my own info, so I don’t have to keep googling for websites. I would ask people NOT link to this in the future when questions about the best market, bakery, etc. are asked on the board.

Things change and it might discourage some great new hint. After a few days when a topic has run its course, then it's ok to link to this post as supplemental info, if anyone wants to.

*** Tops in its category IMNSHO (in my not so humble opinion)

BAKERIES AND BREAD

*** Acme (SF, Berkeley, various markets)
http://www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com/acme_bread_company.php
Arizmendi / Cheeseboard (SF, Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland
)http://www.arizmendibakery.com/
Bay Bread Boulangerie (SF)
http://www.baybread.com/
Bread Garden (Oakland)
http://www.berkeleybreadgarden.com/
Crixa (Berkeley)
http://www.crixa.net/
Delessio
http://www.delessiomarket.com
Dianda's
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/44062#216428
Emporio Rulli (SF & Marin)
http://www.rulli.com/
Feel Good Bakery - Alameda
http://www.feelgoodbakery.com/pages/848306/index.htm
Golden Gate Bakery (pork buns, custard tarts) (SF) scroll waaay down
http://www.sfgate.com/traveler/guide/sf/neighborhoods/chinatown.shtml
La Farine (Berkeley - morning buns)
http://www.lafarine.com/
Liguria (SF- focaccia)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/1995/03/15/FD26848.DTL
*** Lola’s (Berkeley)
http://www.lolaspizza.com/
Masse's Pastries (Berkeley)
http://www.massespastries.com/
Neldham's (Oakland)
http://www.neldamsbakery.com/
Schubert's (SF)
http://www.schuberts-bakery.com/
Sweet Adeline (Berkeley) http://www.imaginature.org/sweetadeline/index.htm
Tartine Bakery (SF)
http://www.tartinebakery.com/
Victoria Bakery (SF)
http://www.victoriapastry.com/

CHEESE

24th Street Cheese Co (SF) (scroll down
)http://www.sfgate.com/traveler/guide/sf/neighborhoods/noevalley.shtml
Cowgirl Creamery’s Artisan Cheese Shop (SF) http://www.arizmendibakery.com/
*** The Cheese Board, (Berkeley) http://cheeseboardcollective.coop/History/CheesePizzaHistory.html

COFFEE AND TEA

Blue Bottle (SF, Berkeley)
http://www.bluebottlecoffee.net/
Caffé Roma (SF)
http://www.cafferoma.com/ourstory.htm
*** Graffeo (SF)
http://www.graffeo.com/
Martha & Brothers Coffee (SF)http://www.marthabros.com/aboutus.html
Peet's Coffee (various locations)http://www.peets.com/default.asp
Ritual Roasters
http://ritualroasters.com/
Far Leaves Tea (Berkeley, Emeryville
http://www.farleaves.com/
Imperial Tea (SF, Berkeley
)http://www.imperialtea.com/
*** Teance (Albany)
http://www.teance.com/
Ten Ren Tea (SF
)http://www.tenren.com/

ETHNIC SHOPS

This is not my area of expertise and I hope people will post about the well known shops. There are many markets and shops in the Mission, Chinatown, and Clement Street offering fresh meat, seafood and produce at rock bottom prices. Upper Geary has many Eastern European shops.

99 Ranch Market (various locations)
http://www.99ranch.com/
New World Market
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/42943
The Spanish Table (SF & Marin)
http://www.spanishtable.com/

FARMERS MARKETS & FARMS

Alemany (SF)
http://www.sfgov.org/site/alemany_index.asp
Berkeley Farmers Markets (Berkeley) http://www.ecologycenter.org/bfm/
*** Ferry Plaza (SF)
http://www.cuesa.org/
Old Oakland (Oakland) http://www.urbanvillageonline.com/oldoakland/index.html
SF Civic Center (SF)
http://www.sfgate.com/listings/event.php?events,e176635

Other area farmers markets
http://www.cafarmersmarkets.com/search/

Italian Delis

A.G. Ferrari (various locations)
http://www.agferrari.com/
Genova Deli (Oakland) http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2000/05/07/PK8623.DTL
Lucca Delicatessen (SF)
http://www.luccadeli.com/
Molinari Delicatessen (SF)
http://www.molinarideli.com/home.htm

MARKETS

Alameda Marketplace (Alameda
)http://www.alamedamarketplace.com/index.html
Andronico's (various locations)
http://www.andronicos.com/
*** Berkeley Bowl (Berkeley) http://www.berkeleybowl.com/pages/main.html
Bi-Rite Market (SF)
Ferry Plaza Market Place
http://www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com/
http://www.biritemarket.com/flashindex.php
Mollie Stone's (various locations)
http://www.molliestones.com/
Monterey Market
http://www.montereymarket.com/
Natural Grocery Companies (Berkeley & El Cerrito
)http://www.naturalgrocery.com/
Rainbow Grocery, (SF)
The Pasta Shope (Oakland, Berkeley
)http://www.ferryplazafarmersmarket.com/markets/artisans/118.html
http://www.rainbowgrocery.coop/
Whole Foods (various locations)
http://www.wholefoods.com/

MEAT AND SEAFOOD MARKETS

The above markets all have good meat and seafood departments. Check ethnic markets for inexpensive and fresh (even live) products. This article from the SF Chronicle discusses “building a repertoire with the local fishmonger”

The most farmers markets have fish and meat vendors. The Alemany market, for example, sells live chickens and you can buy a hundred small oysters from Pt Reyes Oyster for as little as $35. The Ferry Plaza Market has a number of top of the line meat vendors like Hoffman chickens and game birds. Many vendors, especially seafood, are dependant upon weather and season. They may not be there every week.

Barron's Meats (Alameda
)http://www.baronsmeats.com/
Bobby Lee’s Country Smokehouse
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/34059
Bryan's (SF)` (and other butcher shops)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2003/02/05/FD122380.DTL
Café Rouge (Berkeley)
http://www.caferouge.net/meatmarket.html
Ferry Plaza Merchants (SF)
http://www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com/
Guerra Quality Meats (SF) http://www.sunsetbeacon.com/archives/SunsetBeacon/2003editions/Aug03/guerra.html
Little City Market (SF) See Bryan’s link
Magnani Poultry
http://www.shopinberkeley.com/m/magnanipoultry/index.php
Monterey Fish (Berkeley)
http://www.montereyfish.com/
*** Tokyo Fish (Berkeley)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/07/22/EBGPJD2B5A1.DTL&type=travelbayarea
Ver Brugge Foods (Oakland ... see Bryan’s Link) http://www.rockridgeshop.com/pages/ver_brugge.html

SPECIALTY

Boulette’s Larder (SF)
http://www.bouletteslarder.com/
Yum (SF)
http://www.yumfoods.com/
(more yum info until website completed – scroll down
)http://www.sunset.com/sunset/Premium/Travel/2002/01-Jan/TG0102/NCtips0102.html

SWEETS

Recchuiti (SF)
http://www.recchiuticonfections.com/
Scharffen Berger (various locations) http://www.scharffenberger.com/
Schmidt (SF)
http://www.josephschmidtconfections.com/
Sees (various locatios)
http://www.sees.com/
*** XOX (SF, Oakland)
http://www.xoxtruffles.com/framepage.htm

*** Note: Edited July 20 about 11 pm to include most of the shops mentioned up to that time. There are a few pending: Real Foods, Say Cheese, Cole Coffee and Village Market ... and who knew Monterey Market had a website ... good for them.

  1. megek Jul 21, 2006 02:01 AM

    Coffee/beans - Cole Coffee on College @ 63 ave (north oakland)

    1. b
      bkaufman Jul 20, 2006 08:01 PM

      Best smoked meats - Bobby Lee's in Hayward. Over 300 smoked meats - beef, pork, turkey, chicken, ribs, sausages. On Mission Street. Bobby Lee has been in the butcher busines for over 60 years. Bobby's marinated tritip is the best I've ever had.

      1. l
        LarryW Jul 20, 2006 06:52 PM

        First off, I gotta say that I disagree with some people about the Pasta Shop. I've never had empolyees go so far out of their way to help me with something. The coconut flan alone at the Rockridge location is worth going back for. The cheese selection is excellent, the staff is well trained and knowledgable, and loves to let people taste. Yeah, I will admit the markup can be high on canned/bottled items, but they're not generally the things you go there for anyways.

        Next rant... Berkeley Bowl. God, do I ever love the selection and the prices are normal grocery store to better, but I can't stand the parking and I have even less love for (dare I say it) the patrons. Please take this in the nicest, most constructive criticism way, but Berkeley bowl shoppers can be the rudest, pushiest, most arrogant, self-aggrandizing, solpisistic, ankle-bashing-with-their-carts doofi I have ever had the misfortune to encounter. It's like bottled Berkeley PC concentrate in there. As much as I love the place, the gauntlet I have to run just to get good veggies makes it not worth the trip.

        Okay, enough of the rants. A few other places in the Bay area that weren't yet mentioned but are worth a look...

        Ethnic shops:
        Lion (primarily South Bay)- Asian food grocery store. Great selection and prices. Always surrounded by the most spendid collection of asian shops.

        Markets:
        Draeger's (Peninsula)
        http://www.draegers.com/
        High-end grocery store (and kitchenware). I wouldn't get the everyday things there, but the specialty items, the deli, pastry, and meat counters are first rate.

        Breads:
        Grace Baking (various markets in the bay area
        )http://www.gracebaking.com/
        The pugliese is one of the best anywhere.

        Tea and coffee:
        Ten Ren Tea (SF and Milpitas
        )http://www.tenren.com/
        The rose pearl tea is to die for

        Bakeries:
        Sogo Bakery (South Bay locations
        )http://sogo-bakery.com/

        2 Replies
        1. re: LarryW
          rworange Jul 20, 2006 09:30 PM

          Well, even though it isn't anywhere near ready to post, since there are some South Bay suggesions, here's a similar topic for the South Bay.

          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

          Grace is sort of like Fatted Calf ... they don't have a retail shop so it gets lumped under great markets that carry it. In Fatted Calf's case, farmers markets. I do miss the Grace Bakery shop though. They made the best yule logs.

          1. re: LarryW
            MollyGee Jul 21, 2006 01:42 AM

            I'm not being snarky in saying that I think it makes a *huge* difference, when shopping at The Bowl, to go in with a positive attitude. In the years I have been shopping there I have met far more very friendly folks than otherwise. But maybe that is too "Berkeley PC" of me.

          2. j
            Janet Jul 20, 2006 05:49 PM

            The Village Market @ Broadway Terrace and Clarewood in Oakland is a great little grocery. This is not a market(to me) for everyday goods, a little high. But for cheese, meats and especially produce they do great. They also have prepared salads, meats, etc that are very good.

            1. Ruth Lafler Jul 19, 2006 09:57 PM

              Because it can't be said enough: Berkeley Bowl. Best selection of produce anywhere (a stunned NYer I took there once said "the produce section is bigger than all of Fairway"). Good selection of meats, including "natural" meats and poultry. I don't buy much fish, but the fish selection always looks good. Great selection of interesting shelf goods and dairy products. Greek yogurt? French butter? They have it, and the prices are more in line with supermarket prices than specialty store prices. Decent cheese selection (not up to a specialty cheese shop, but adequate for most purposes). Lines are long, but the checkers keep things moving quickly (and they're amazing at correctly identifying the varieties of produce, with help from some arcane colored dot marking system). The parking lot can be insane, but it's usually fairly easy to find a spot nearby on the street.

              One thing people may not realize is that it's about a five-minute walk from the Ashby BART station, so it's accessible to everyone.

              All that said, I hardly ever go there anymore, because I live across the street from:

              Alameda Marketplace: a market hall with a great wine and cheese store, natural grocery, butcher, fishmonger and a bakery that makes some of the best bread in the area. Worth a visit if you're anywhere nearby.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                Robert Lauriston Jul 19, 2006 10:02 PM

                For certain things (apples, mushrooms, fresh corn) quality and selection is enough better at Monterey Market that I go there even though Berkeley Bowl is a few blocks from my house.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler
                  MollyGee Jul 19, 2006 11:00 PM

                  I find myself in Alameda often and The Alameda Marketplace *is* swell. The walnut levain at FeelGood Bakery is my favorite bread in the world right now. And,Berkeley Bowl is lovely (It's my local market), but you can't get a decent organic peach there (and for the living museum of produce that it is, having bad peaches is close to criminal), but the organic peaches I got recently at the Alameda Natural Grocery w/in the Marketplace were fabulous and I'm the world's pickiest peach eater.

                  1. re: MollyGee
                    Ruth Lafler Jul 19, 2006 11:10 PM

                    I've been eating bread from Feel Good since Day 1, and it just keeps getting better. I love the French baguettes with the thin, crisp crust and tender interior -- they make a nice change from the chewier Bay Area style. The Wholey-Moley is my favorite whole grain bread, and when I served the epi at a recent wine tasting a couple of people commented that it was better than Acme, which is high praise indeed! They recently started offering croissants on a regular basis, and they're excellent, especially the almond criossant.

                    Oh, and they'll sell a half loaf if you ask, which is great for a single person like me who can't finish a whole loaf before it gets stale.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler
                      Robert Lauriston Jul 20, 2006 03:48 PM

                      Feel Good makes good bread, but it's got a ways to go to beat Acme.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler
                        MollyGee Jul 20, 2006 10:09 PM

                        FeelGood also has very good pizza by the slice, though they can be flakey about having any ready until well after noon sometimes. The crust is excellent, much better than Arizmendi which has a comparable style of pizza (no sauce, unique toppings that change every day).

                        I think that Feel Good compares to Acme. But I am more likely to get a loaf of Feel Good's bread hot out of the oven than a hot loaf of Acme which I usually buy at the grocery.

                  2. oakjoan Jul 19, 2006 09:10 PM

                    I'd add the Pasta Shop cheese counters, but espec the Rockridge one. Not a huge selection, but they're generous with samples, knowledgeable and nice.

                    Most of the stuff at the Pasta Shop (prepped food) doesn't wow me, but their smoked mussels and very good selection of salami, ham, etc. always bring me back. Also their spicy tofu salad is really good.

                    I wouldn't buy anything canned or jarred there cause the mark up is way too high for my poor old wallet.

                    Also the Southwest Chicken Sausages at Enzo's are great!

                    I also like Paul Marcus for their many bottles of reasonable wines. Also for the fact that they actually TRY the wines and their written comments mean something.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: oakjoan
                      Robert Lauriston Jul 19, 2006 10:00 PM

                      Varies as employees come and go, but Pasta Shop doesn't take the best care of its cheese. The Rockridge branch is better than Fourth Street.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                        Ruth Lafler Jul 19, 2006 10:40 PM

                        In my experience Pasta Shop is overpriced and the staff is snooty and unhelpful. I've had enough bad experiences at both Rockridge and Fourth St. that I never want to shop there again. They're nowhere near as special as they think they are!

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler
                          Robert Lauriston Jul 20, 2006 03:45 PM

                          I go to Pasta Shop on occasion because they carry some hard-to-find items. I don't expect the $10-an-hour staffers to know anything more than where things are shelved and how to run the cash register.

                    2. t
                      Tobias Jul 19, 2006 08:45 PM

                      I would remove:
                      Victoria
                      Bay Bread
                      Martha & Bros.
                      Bryan's

                      I would add:
                      Ritual
                      Say Cheese
                      Real Foods

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Tobias
                        rworange Jul 19, 2006 08:53 PM

                        I've never been to Ritual. Do they sell their own beans or is it just a coffee shop, so to speak?

                        I forgot completly about Say Cheese on Cole. I really liked their sandwiches. Can you say a little more about the cheese selection? Also a bit more about Real Foods. Are both locations equally good?

                        Bay Breads and Victoria are like Emporio Rulli, they do some things very, very well and others, eh. Actually a good percentage of the bakeries in that list you could say the same about.

                        Bay Bread does, for my tastes an outstanding Quiche Lorraine, lemon tart and almond croissant. Others like the cannelles and French Macroons (not personally wowed by either).

                        IMO, Victoria is one of the better non-upscale Italian Bakeries ... although there's another bakery on Green whose name I'm blanking on right now that is starting to move up. They were just sold and the quality keeps getting better.

                        Yeah, Martha & Brothers, I guess not a destination, but good for the neighborhood. Don't have the slightest opinion on Bryans but it ususally gets good posts on the board. Why don't you liked them (and that's probobably opening a pandora box).

                        1. re: Tobias
                          Cynsa Jul 20, 2006 07:23 AM

                          I would add:
                          Dianda's (2883 Mission St. San Francisco 94110)

                          Ritual Roasters (they sell Stumptown Beans from Portland, OR)
                          26 Valencia Street
                          San Francisco, CA 94110
                          ritualroasters.com

                          1. re: Cynsa
                            ChowFun_derek Jul 20, 2006 03:33 PM

                            Dianda's..famous (infamous!) for their "DILDEAUX" ...chocolate rum filled with crackly sugar glaze (Beard Papa eat your heart out!)
                            These won big at our Chowhound Picnic...for discovered purchased product....(I forgot the non x-rated name for these...but the staff usully giggles whn I ask for them and know exctly what I' referring to!)

                            1. re: ChowFun_derek
                              Cynsa Jul 20, 2006 03:37 PM

                              Some call it The Mushroom pastry...

                              1. re: ChowFun_derek
                                Robert Lauriston Jul 20, 2006 03:37 PM

                                You mean the "mushrooms"?

                          2. farmersdaughter Jul 19, 2006 08:37 PM

                            Italian deli -- Lucca Ravioli in the Mission on Valencia & 22nd is my favorite

                            Bakery -- Della Fattoria in Petaluma and available at the Saturday Ferry Plaza farmer's market

                            http://www.dellafattoria.com/della.htm

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: farmersdaughter
                              rworange Jul 20, 2006 08:43 PM

                              Thanks. I put Della Fratoria in a separate post about North Bay food markets

                              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                            2. m
                              Missmoo Jul 19, 2006 08:19 PM

                              I would add El Cerrito Natural and Monterey Market in the East Bay. Also Good Earth Natural in Fairfax which has every other store beat in my experience (though maybe not in terms of selection because they have a strict criteria)

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Missmoo
                                rworange Jul 19, 2006 08:22 PM

                                Thanks. I keep hearing such good things on the boad about El Cerrito Natural. This gives me the push to FINALLY stop in and check it out.

                              2. Morton the Mousse Jul 19, 2006 07:52 PM

                                Excellent list. I would add Fatted Calf. Although they are *only* a Farmers' Market vendor their product line is so unique and delicious that I believe they deserve a separate billing.

                                www.fattedcalf.com

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Morton the Mousse
                                  oakjoan Jul 19, 2006 09:05 PM

                                  I totally agree! The duck liver mousse and the sausages we've had from Fatted Calf were outstanding! Amazing. Their email newsletter is also charming. A great treasure!

                                2. a_and_w Jul 19, 2006 07:42 PM

                                  rw, this is an excellent list! Two of the Bay Area places I miss most are Berkeley Bowl and Genova. The former, in particular, elicits longing looks and lots of salivation amongst expats I know...

                                  1. a
                                    Alexandra Eisler Jul 19, 2006 07:00 PM

                                    Don't forget Magnani Poultry for chicken, duck, rabbit, ("Mom, can we have flopsy bunny in a mustard sauce tonight?"), and lovely lamb.

                                    Magnani Poultry
                                    1576 Hopkins
                                    Berkeley CA
                                    510 528 6370

                                    across the street from Monterey Market

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